twistdfateangel: (Default)
 I want this book to be good. I don't want to offend anyone and I'm trying so hard to get it all right, but the line between fantasy and reality just had a brimming cup of reality check tip over on it.

I don't know how much real world there is in this book anymore. I love the Russian names, I love the overly-curious, clumsy seamstress, and her quirky little magic system, hell, I love the antagonists, even if they are bastards. But, the language is a pain in the ass. If I'm using proper Russian names for people, I should use them for places. I really need a Russian beta reader, but I'm not even sure where to look. Language might not be a problem, my sister-in-law speaks Russian fluently, as does my friend Chris, but culture-wise, they only know medieval and modern.

I feel like a chump and like I've been insensitive this whole time. But, I also feel like writing a totally Western Hemisphere story for American readers has been done to death. It's been lampooned to death, too. 

I first became inspired to do this after reading about Russian Court Uniforms. The gowns the women wore were incredible. They were these decadent confections of gold and velvet and satin. They screamed "magic" to me, and I saw what I can only describe as a video clip flash before my eyes. Now this is a very rushed synopsis, so pardon the pacing.

A young woman, perhaps 19 or 20 years old, enters a large room, full of people sewing, mostly women. They rise, bow or curtsy, and she responds in kind and gives them leave to continue. Poor kid looks as nervous as a belle at her first cotillion, but she proceeds to a dressmaker's dummy in the middle of the room. A blank gown of white velvet is already on, but it seems drab and dull. She picks up a box and pins bits of trim on, marks odd patterns and diagrams on the cloth, drapes it with other materials.

Soon, the room is empty. She calls in two other women. One is older and higher ranking by birth, disapproving from the face, but she's still lovely even in her eighties. The other is perhaps in her thirties or forties, girlishly lovely, but shy and mute. They ease the gown off the manikin and set to work. Soon, even those two have left. The gown is lavishly embroidered and glittering with silver, crystal and pearls like fresh snow. The woman looks exhausted, as though she hasn't rested since she started and the clock is striking three. She places a few last stitches in the trim and gets the gown back on the dummy. She can rest now, but not long.

She allows herself only the barest amount of pride. The arcane work behind the dress is so well disguised, even she can't spot it among the lacy patterns. Even so, it's not done, because she's standing now, taking a flask of liquid and a handkerchief, using it to flick water over the garment. It glitters and glows. She flops into an armchair and sleeps.

As soon as the sun is up, a page opens the door and announces someone. The woman snaps awake, jumping to her feet and dropping into a low curtsy as a small, dark woman enters in a frilly dressing gown and nighty. The page is shooed out and the woman helps the newcomer to dress, even with the lingerie and accessories. She sets a tall tiara with a long, silver veil on her head, arranging every fold, before stepping back and curtsying again.

Flash forward. Several hours later, it's all gone wrong. The woman in the white dress looks like hell. The dress is a shambles, she's lost a shoe, her headdress is rolling away and she's trying to defend herself from a rather handsome fella with a revolver, using only turned over tables and a very long candlestick. He gets in a lucky shot and she crumples. He goes to the sideboard, pours a drink, toasts his victory and turns his back to drink.

WHACK!

The woman in white is up again, she's clubbed him with the candlestick. She stands over him and plucks from her bodice a single, deformed lump of lead, which she drops on his face.



That, in a nutshell, is what inspired the novel. That woman in white is clearly in my head wearing a Russian court gown and, while the populace will hear of the Tsaritsa's courage and fortitude, who will hear the story of the people who made her bulletproof? But, I'm wondering now, why did I have to pick a culture I'm so clumsy with?

Argh.

Jun. 15th, 2010 10:47 am
twistdfateangel: (disgust)
 Okay, so, now I'm feeling a little worried about my NaNo.

See, [personal profile] whatistigerbalm has been reviewing Miéville's "The City and The City". She's not at all happy with the way the author is portraying the Balkans (or at least, fantasy worlds with Balkan inspiration) and I can get behind that.

But, my NaNo is based in a country that's inspired by 19th c. Russia.

Can you see why I'm worried? )Edited for correct gender

ARGH!

May. 31st, 2010 09:59 am
twistdfateangel: (Default)
 So, I started NaNo prep early this year. Figured it couldn't hurt, and I could do some of the weirder research (magic, myths, household management, names, etc.) at Pennsic and at the family reunion, where I can ask my sister-in-law, who is a Russian nut. Today, while trying to hash-out the logic behind this little Fisher Kingdom, I hit a major roadblock.

Here are my notes, copy pasted from the document. I'm not afraid of people stealing them. The most essential pieces of the plot aren't involved.

Make SENSE, damnit! )


ARGH.

 

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